10 Best Songs of the Week: Courtney Barnett, Beach House, Okkervil River, Moaning, and More

Plus Anna von Hausswolff, Preoccupations, of Montreal, Iceage, Lucy Dacus, and a Wrap-up of the Week's Other Notable New Tracks

Feb 16, 2018
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This week Under the Radar favorite Courtney Barnett announced her new album and shared a new song and fellow favorites Beach House announced that a new album was coming and shared a new song. When we heard both songs we knew they would likely be the Top 2 in this week's Songs of the Week, although we weren't sure which order. Overall it was definitely a strong week for new tracks, with lots to choose from. For the tenth spot it came down to Eleanor Friedberger and The Drums. You'll have to scroll down to see which one made the list.

To help you sort through the multitude of fresh songs released in the last seven days, we have picked the 10 best this week had to offer, along with highlighting other notable new tracks shared this week. Check out the full list below.

1. Courtney Barnett: "Nameless, Faceless"

This week Australian singer/songwriter/guitarist Courtney Barnett announced a new album, Tell Me How You Really Feel, and shared its first single, "Nameless, Faceless," via a video for the song. Tell Me How You Really Feel is due out May 18 via Mom + Pop/Marathon Artists/Milk! Records. She has also announced some tour dates.

"Nameless, Faceless" addresses the anonymity of online comments, users, and down-votes. Lucy Dyson directed the video, which mixes animation with photos of Barnett to illustrate the song's point.   

The chorus to "Nameless, Faceless" borrows from a famous Margaret Atwood quote. Here's the chorus: "I want to walk through the park in the dark/Men are scared that women will laugh at them/I want to walk through the park in the dark/Women are scared that men will kill them/I hold my keys between my fingers."

On Monday Barnett shared a new video that appeared to tease her new album. The two-and-a-half minute video featured Barnett in a room filled with different instruments, which she picked up to perform snippets of new songs. At the end the album title appeared on the screen. According to a press release, after that mysterious billboards for the album started to appear in major cities around the world. Select indie record stores worldwide then unexpectedly received vinyl copies of "Nameless, Faceless."

The press release describes the album as such: "In Tell Me How You Really Feel, Barnett has revealed an exhilarating and unexpected shift. From its title (A question? An order?) to the unsettling cover image - a blood-red tinted self-portrait in uncomfortably tight close up - Barnett sets a different tone. There's a new-found directness with this record, a muscularity to the instrumentation, a tenderness in her voice and a boldness to the lyrics. It speaks to Barnett entering a remarkable new phase of her musical evolution. She's saying more, with less. Whereas once she examined the world through the prism of self-analysis, Tell Me How You Really Feel shifts that focus to those she interacts with - the good ones, the bad ones, the loved ones. Those she knows intimately and those who are strangers."

Last year Barnett teamed up with American singer/songwriter/guitarist Kurt Vile for the collaborative album, Lotta Sea Lice, which came out in October via Matador. (It was one of our Top 100 Albums of 2017.)

Read our 2017 interview with Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile on Lotta Sea Lice.

Barnett released her debut full-length album, Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit, via Mom + Pop in 2015 and it landed at #6 on Under the Radar's Top 100 Albums of 2015 list.

Also read our joint interview between Barnett and Wilco's Jeff Tweedy, from our Best of 2015 issue.

2. Beach House: "Lemon Glow"

This week Baltimore duo Beach House (Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally) shared a new song, "Lemon Glow." The band say via an Instagram post that it's taken from their upcoming album, which is "due later this spring." Since it was shared late on Valentine's Day, the band also wrote: "Wishing everyone out there love tonight."

Beach House put out two albums in 2015: Depression Cherry and Thank Your Lucky Stars, both via Sub Pop. In 2017 they released a B-sides and rarities compilation, fittingly titled B-Sides and Rarities, also via Sub Pop.

Read our 2017 interview with Beach House on B-Sides and Rarities.

Also read our 2015 interview with Beach House's Victoria Legrand about Depression Cherry.

3. Okkervil River: "Don't Move Back to LA"

This week Okkervil River (the project of Will Sheff and backing band) announced a new album, In the Rainbow Rain, and shared its first single, "Don't Move Back to LA." In the Rainbow Rain is due out April 27 via ATO. The band have also announced some tour dates.

Sheff self-produced In the Rainbow Rain, which was mixed by Shawn Everett (Perfume Genius, The War on Drugs). The album is the follow-up to 2016's Away. Sheff's backing band for In the Rainbow Rain is Benjamin Lazar Davis (bass), Will Graefe (guitar), Sarah Pedinotti (keys), and Cully Symington (percussion)-Sheff's band on the Away tour. Sheff reflected on that tour in a press release: "It was my favorite touring experience in many years... I felt like a kid again. I realized how phenomenally lucky I am that I've been able to play music for this long."

Sheff began writing In the Rainbow Rain right after the 2016 Presidential election. "If December 2016 was good for anything, it was good for writing songs," he says in the press release. 

In the press release Sheff says "Don't Move Back to LA" "had a very straightforward impulse behind it: a bunch of my best friends all moved to LA and I was really sad about it so I wrote a song about how I didn't want them to leave...I think the song is also kind of about my own deep and long-held desire to get the hell out of New York City." 

4. Anna von Hausswolff: "The Truth, The Glow, The Fall"

Sweden's Anna von Hausswolff is releasing her new album, Dead Magic, on March 2 via City Slang. This week she shared a 12-minute new song, "The Truth, The Glow, The Fall." The slow-building epic song opens the album, which only consists of five tracks across 47 minutes.

5. Moaning: "Tired"

Los Angeles shoegazers/post-punkers Moaning are releasing their self-titled debut album on March 2 via Sub Pop. This week they shared another song from it, "Tired," via a video. Ambar Navarro directed the video, which features a dollhouse on fire, along with shots of the band performing the song.

Navarro had this to say about the video in a press release: "Behind closed doors we experience a series of strange stories: A house catches fire, a giant hamster takes a bath, and a series of objects spontaneously combust. The 'Tired' video plays with analog special effects, creating dream-like environments and scenarios." 

6. Preoccupations: "Antidote"

Preoccupations are releasing a new album, the amusingly titled New Material, on March 23 via Jagjaguwar. Previously they shared its first single, "Espionage." This week they shared another song from the album, the pulsing "Antidote," via a video. Michael Wallace and Evan Pearce directed the video, which features somewhat distorted, often black & white, images of the band.

Lead vocalist, songwriter, and bassist Matt Flegel had this to say about the song in a press release: "'Antidote' is about humans forgetting that we're apes, it's about trying to make sense out of something that we'd be better off not trying to make sense of. It's about having infinite knowledge at our fingertips, but still making all the wrong choices over and over. It's about trying to find a moment in your day where you can take a breath and remember that we're basically all just animals bumbling around." 

The post-punk band were formerly known as Viet Cong, but released their first album as Preoccupations, also titled Preoccupations, in 2016 via Jagjaguwar. New Material is thus technically their third album. The band self-recorded the album, which was mixed by Justin Meldal-Johnson (M83, Wolf Alice).

Flegel had this to say about New Material in a previous press release: "It's an ode to depression. To depression and self-sabotage, and looking inward at yourself with extreme hatred." 

Read our 2016 interview with Preoccupations.

 

7. of Montreal: "Plateau Phase/No Careerism No Corruption"

Kevin Barnes and of Montreal are releasing a new album, White Is Relic/Irrealis Mood, on March 9 via Polyvinyl. Previously of Montreal shared the album's first single, "Paranoiac Intervals/Body Dysmorphia." (It was one of our Songs of the Week.) Then there was a video for the song. This week they shared another song from the album, "Plateau Phase/No Careerism No Corruption," via a colorful video directed by Christina Eleni Schneider and Clayton Rychlik.

Frontman/main creative force Kevin Barnes had this to say about the song in a press release: "'Plateau Phase/No Careerism No Corruption' started out as a song I wrote for Janelle Monáe last summer called 'Fucked In Your Driveway.' We worked on it together one magical day in her laboratory at Wondaland but nothing really happened with it, so I reworked it into something very different for my own album. Lyrically, I pulled inspiration from Multiverse Theory, the writings of Wilhelm Reich and the economist Guy Standing, Eastern European party culture, and Bluets by Maggie Nelson, as well as my burgeoning new love affair with a woman of mystery and magic. We shot the video in Atlanta at an art/performance space called Rowdy Dowdy one chilly winter day this January. It was directed/edited by Christina Eleni Schneider and costumed by Taber Lathrop, Elizabeth Wheeler and David Barnes and I wore an outfit created by AC Carter."

The band also recently shared a cover of Molly Drake's "Love Isn't a Right" for Amazon Music's dual Valentine's Day-timed "Love Me" and "Love Me Not" playlists.

The album is the follow-up to 2016's Innocence Reaches and 2017's Rune Husk EP.

Read our 2016 The End interview about endings and death with of Montreal's Kevin Barnes.

8. Iceage: "Catch It"

Denmark's Iceage have shared a video for a new song, "Catch It," and announced some tour dates. The May and June dates include some European shows, but mainly traverse North America.

Iceage-Elias Bender Rønnenfelt (vocals, lyrics), Jakob Tvilling Pless (bass), Dan Kjær Nielsen (drums), and Johan Wieth (guitar)-produced "Catch It" with Nis Bysted. It was recorded all-analog by Mattias Glavå at Kungsten Studios in Göteborg, Sweden. Adam Hashemi directed the video, which was shot in Los Angeles mainly on 8mm film. The band's last album was 2014's Plowing Into the Field of Love. Rønnenfelt also released two albums with Marching Church, 2015's This World Is Not Enough and 2016's Telling It Like It Is.

 

9. Lucy Dacus: "Next of Kin"

Lucy Dacus is releasing a new album, Historian, on March 2 via Matador. Previously she shared its first single and opening track, "Night Shift," as well as a self-directed video for "Addictions." This week she shared a third song from the album, "Next of Kin." "I'm at peace with my death/I can go back to bed," she sings. "I will never be complete/I'll never know anything."

Dacus had this to say about the song in a press release: "'Next of Kin' is the thesis statement of the album. It's a breaking point after a build up of difficult subject matter. It's a song about accepting fate, forgetting fear, and allowing yourself to be incomplete always."

Historian is the singer/songwriter's sophomore album, the follow-up to 2016's No Burden. No Burden producer Collin Pastore produced the album, which was recorded in Nashville last March. John Congleton mixed the album a few months later.

Read our 2016 Artist Survey interview with Lucy Dacus.

10. The Drums: "Meet Me in Mexico"

This week The Drums released a brand new charity song, "Meet Me in Mexico," to benefit those affected by the Mexican earthquakes last September. The song is available on Bandcamp in a pay-what-you-want situation. We went with The Drums over Eleanor Friedberger for the tenth spot due to the charity angle.

Frontman/main creative force Jonny Pierce had this to say about the song in a statement: "I am grateful beyond measure for the love poured out to me from my Mexican and Mexican-American fans. I contribute much of the longevity of my career to their devotion and passion for the work I put into the world. I wrote this song when I had reached a mountaintop of frustration with Donald Trump and his Country Club of Dumb Americans. I found myself wanting to get out of America. Mexico seemed like an obvious choice - a place to go of which I have only good memories. Mexico, I love you and I'm with you."

Proceeds will benefit two organizations, Reconstruir México and Lago Tanganica 67.

Reconstruir México "is a multi-disciplinary group of renowned architects, engineers, and technicians that have formed brigades that assist the affected areas. They do so by analyzing and reconstructing damaged buildings & offering community workshops to teach locals to build & rebuild using methods & materials congruent with their natural habitat."

Lago Tanganica 67 "is a citizen-founded organization. Fronted by actor Diego Luna, it has been one of the most popular donation centers in Mexico City, where anyone, from celebrities (actors, football players, musicians) to average citizens could join up and help."

The Drums released a new album, "Abysmal Thoughts" (the quote marks are part of the title), last year via ANTI-.

Read our 2017 Protest interview with The Drums' Jonny Pierce.

Other notable new tracks this week include:

Ryan Adams: "Baby I Love You"

Julianna Barwick: "Garland"

The Blow: "Afterparty"

DRINKS: "Real Outside"

JB Dunckel: "Love Machine"

Everything Is Recorded: "Everything Is Recorded" (Feat. Sampha & Owen Pallett)

Fort Wanderers: "Not For Me"

 

Eleanor Friedberger: "In Between Stars"

Charlotte Gainsbourg: "Ring-a-Ring O' Roses (SebastiAn on the Beat Remix)"

Albert Hammond Jr.: "Far Away Truths"

Topaz Jones: "Toothache"

Kero Kero Bonito: "Only Acting"

Ezra Koenig: "I Promise You (Demo)"

Living Hour: "Tous Les Garçons Et Les Filles" (Françoise Hardy Cover)

Lo Moon: "My Money"

Low: "Let's Stay Together" (Al Green Cover)

Lucius: "Eventually" (Tame Impala Cover) 

Makeness: "Stepping Out of Sync"

Mount Kimbie: "Turtle Neck Man" (Feat. King Krule)

Muse: "Thought Contagion"

Frank Ocean: "Moon River" (Henry Mancini and Johnny Mercer Cover)

POLIÇA and s t a r g a z e: "Speaking of a Ghost"

A. Savage: "Frightened" (The Fall Cover)

Shamir: "Room"

Smash Mouth: "Something Soon" (Car Seat Headrest Cover)

Soccer Mommy: "Still Clean"

Suuns: "Make It Real" 

Tracey Thorn: "Sister" (Feat. Corinne Bailey Rae) and Two Andrew Weatherall Remixes

 

 

The Voidz: "Pointlessness"

Yeah Yeah Yeahs: "Thirteen" (Big Star Cover)

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